Third Time’s a Charm: Tips on Passing the HSE after Multiple Attempts

Posted by on December 1st, 2016

Numerous adults take the high school equivalency (HSE) exams each year. Unfortunately, not everyone passes the exams on the first try. As a result, there are many students who take multiple attempts to pass the HSE tests. The multiple retests raise concerns for both students and instructors alike. Some of the concerns include cost, time limitations and adequate preparation for subsequent tests. Strategies exist for addressing these concerns as well as tips for preparing for retaking the exams.

Time Periods

The various HSE exams each have guidelines for repeat testing. Some states also have rules regarding the number of retest attempts allowed within a certain time period. Based on which exam is accepted in a given state, students and instructors should be aware of any restrictions they may face. The additional information regarding the retake time frames will allow students and teachers to work together in crafting an adequate plan and schedule for review. Students should plan additional attempts within allotted time frames but also within a period that allows them to master the missed material while still retaining prior knowledge.



The HSE exams require a financial investment, both in preparation and testing fees. The fees often carry over to retesting as well. The increased cost of additional preparation and the further tests can be a concern for some students. It is recommended that the students and instructors work together to identify more cost effective measures in preparing for the retest. The first priority is identifying what, if any, costs are associated with retesting. Some of the HSE tests offer reduced fees for additional attempts while others offer retests for free, though individual states may require additional administrative fees. Likewise, additional fees may be incurred in the preparation for retests. Programs may charge for supplementary test preparation while others may offer retest support at no additional cost.


Additional Preparation

Once a test taker has failed a portion of the HSE exams, additional preparation is necessary for future success. The HSE exam options offer more enhanced reporting that provides students with information on the sections that have been mastered and identifies areas for improvement. Test takers can partner with their instructors to review the results and prepare a plan for additional support in those areas prior to retest. Some tips for additional preparation include:

  • Participation in a test prep course to strengthen skills.
  • Joining a study group or work with a tutor.
  • Reviewing material using online resources and interactive games.
  • Utilizing a study guide.
  • Completing multiple practice tests in the retesting subject.


Failure of a HSE exam can be discouraging for students and instructors alike. Along with the disappointment there are other concerns that arise as students approach retesting. Knowledge of policies and procedures, saving for added costs and substantial review of low mastered material are ways to address the concerns. Through the use of these strategies students will be able to walk into additional test attempts with confidence.


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